Reagan Family Behind the Scenes

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume", June 10, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BRIT HUME, HOST: You could see it clearly in the way yesterday's events unfolded. It was Ronald Reagan's state funeral, but it was Nancy Reagan's plan, and in some respects Nancy Reagan's day. Closing chapter in a love story and a marriage, both more public and more private than many -- almost any this nation has ever seen.

Perhaps a leading -- the leading chronicler of this remarkable relationship is the biographer Ann Edwards, author of "The Reagans, Portrait of a Marriage." She joins us from our Los Angeles bureau.

Good evening and thank you for coming.


HUME: Tell me a little bit about this relationship in the sense of -- I remember when I was a reporter covering Congress here in Washington, and we would see the Reagans. And we knew that they had many friends together. He however, only seemed to have only one really, really close friend, and that was she. Was that the case?

EDWARDS: That's no -- there's no question about that. She was the closest person to him in his life since his mother died. He had been very close, of course, to Nell, his mother. And I think he carried this on into the relationship with Nancy.

I tell you, I was overwhelmed at watching the proceedings yesterday and also in Simi Valley. I had such strong feelings about what happened. In Simi Valley, you know, before the body was taken on the plane to Washington, there was a moment when Nancy was sitting there and Patti leaned over and put her hand on her mother's hand. And her mother kind of moved her head in a way that it rested for a second on Patti's shoulder. And that was very emotional and it signaled to me that the circle had finally been completed. And perhaps these two people had made everything up. Then we come...

HUME: Stop for a second. Tell me what needed to be made up for the benefit of those who may not know.


EDWARDS: Well, you know, there have been so many years of difficulties with Patti. Patti was such a rebellious young person. She always felt that there was this -- this glass wall between herself and her parents. There had always been a great deal of hostility between herself and her mother, which was very difficult to deal with. And there was a great deal of, what shall I say? Anger, I think it was actually anger, that the Reagans' public life invaded their private life. That's what she thought.

She thought that the family wasn't what it should be because he had proceeded into a very public life. And Nancy, of course, being so protective of Ronald -- Nancy always took Ronnie's side. And Ronnie always took Nancy's side. That was the way that situation was...

HUME: I was...

EDWARDS: The children -- go ahead.

HUME: I was just struck -- just to interrupt for a moment. I was struck yesterday -- we just saw a little bit of it, as you were speaking -- when the -- when the -- when that caisson had finally arrived on Capitol Hill, she emerged to watch it being brought up the stairs and to accompany it part of way. And she emerged alone. Now, at that time...

EDWARDS: She did.

HUME: ... of course, other members of the family -- there you see her there. We can see her now on the portico there on the west front of the Capitol. Other members of the family were present; they were already in the rotunda. Patti and young Ron were present there.

You see them shown where they were when -- during the ceremony when Vice President Cheney was speaking. They were there in place. They did not come outside. And of course, Michael Reagan seemed to be relegated to a back row seat there in the rotunda. There you see a picture of him now. And it was interesting to me. What did that tell us?

EDWARDS: Well, it told us that they're still somewhat of a dysfunctional family. There's no question about that. But listen, I have great hopes, you know, in this -- in the midst of this, of the loss that they have now had. And that Nancy is now the only figure, the only parent left, that there will be something cohesive that happens between this group.

I was terribly upset when I say that at the very end of the ceremony in the rotunda that -- that Nancy came up to the casket with Patti and Ron, her two natural children, and that Michael was not there by her side. I just found that very disturbing. And I later, of course, he came up by himself and gave a small little private...

HUME: Now, he is adopted and was adopted by -- by the former president and his first wife...

EDWARDS: Yes, but you know, Brit, he has wanted so much to be a part of their life all along. And actually in his early years, his relationship with his mother was not so good. And he came to live with Nancy and Reagan, and I won't go into that at this time because this is not the time to think about maybe those unhappy times.

But it was a difficult, difficult relationship. He did not get along with Nancy, and Nancy was resentful of his being there without question. And it has created problems throughout. And I think he wants, you know, very much to be part of it.

HUME: Yes, just one last -- one thing I wanted...

EDWARDS: I was going to say that the title of his book, you know, is really tells of it all. It was "On The Outside Looking In." And I think all of the children felt that. The only one that really had a very close relationship with her father was Maureen.

HUME: I see. Maureen now gone.

Just one last quick question...

EDWARDS: Maureen is gone.

HUME: I guess, when time presses on, I just wanted to thank you very much for coming and for providing these insights into the Reagan family. Thank you.

EDWARDS: Oh, thank you for having me, Brit. It's a pleasure.

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